While laptops have historically trailed far behind desktop PCs in terms of power and performance, the growth of Intel's dual-core Centrino technology has ensured the divide is growing smaller all the time and you no longer need to pay a fortune to enjoy the benefits.
With even reasonably priced laptops now sporting multi-core processors and as much as 4GB of memory as standard, it's easy to run your home office or keep your family connected and entertained with the latest high-definition content, all from the comfort of your couch.
Some laptops will always be better than others, however, and a few key systems stand out from the crowd, so if you're looking for the maximum bang for your buck and the most stunning performance around, we've got five of the most powerful laptops money can buy.
Acer Aspire 8920G
Acer is known for its huge range of both consumer and corporate laptops and regularly offers the latest components at competitive prices.
The Aspire 8920G is its high-end media centre, and provides great high-definition usability alongside some truly stunning performance.
The large 4.1kg chassis is best suited to desktop use, but the three-hour battery life lets you move around the home when necessary. The large keyboard has a very comfortable typing action even for long-term work, but the glossy keys quickly highlight fingerprints during use.
The Intel Core 2 Duo P9300 processor runs at 2.5GHz, with 4096MB of DDR2 memory in support. Along with the powerful nVidia GeForce 9650M GS graphics card, resource-hungry software runs quickly and you can easily play games and edit music, photos and HD video.
The 18.4-inch screen is stunningly bright and vibrant and uses a 16:9 aspect ratio. It is ideal for HD entertainment, as DVD and Blu-ray movies fit the screen perfectly with the usual black borders at the top and bottom of the screen being reduced or completely removed.
The Blu-ray optical drive lets you playback the latest high-definition releases, but is read-only so you can't write data to recordable Blu-ray discs. It supports standard recordable DVDs and CDs however, so you can still create your own multimedia discs and perform data back-ups.
With such outstanding performance at this reasonable price, the Aspire 8920G-934G64Bn is a great entry-level HD media centre.
The omission of a recordable Blu-ray drive may put some buyers off, but this is still a great laptop for multimedia creation and consumption. Read full review
Asus provides a truly comprehensive range of laptops and is currently best known for the Eee PC mini-laptop that launched the current Netbook market.
The F8Vr is a portable offering, which uses Intel's Centrino 2 technology for near market-leading dual-core power.
The slim black and silver chassis carries Asus trademark style, and looks great for home and business use. It weighs just 2.7kg, so is very easy to carry, but its battery life, at just over two hours, is less impressive and only suited to short commutes and use around the home.
The Intel Centrino 2 chipset delivers outstanding dual-core power for complex multi-tasking. When running several applications simultaneously, performance stays smooth and fast, so you can feel confidant that you'll always have enough power, whatever your needs.
The ATi Mobility Radeon HD graphics card is built to directly process high-definition video without needing to rely on the primary CPU. This allows far smoother HD playback and also lets you keep working at your own pace even with HD content playing in the background.
The 14.1-inch screen is also fantastic, and both bright and sharp. Its 1440 x 900 pixel WXGA+ resolution isn't as high as on rival laptops, but is more than enough for most uses. It also lets you comfortably work across multiple windows and is well suited to spreadsheet use.